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Fox News Host Shepard Smith Debunks His Own Network’s Favorite Clinton Conspiracy Theory

Uranium-stock-720x350

While the rest of the news media has been covering the allegations against Roy Moore, the Russia investigation, and the ongoing story about women coming forward to talk about how they’ve been sexually harassed and abused by men in a position of power, Fox News Channel has been obsessing over the so-called Uranium One scandal. As Steven Taylor explained in his post on the matter several weeks, ago, the story behind Uranium One involves the sale of a portion of an interest of a predominantly Canadian-owned company to a Russian company. As the name implies, the corporation in question is involved in the mining and sale of uranium to utilities, other businesses, and government in the United States around the world. Several years ago, that company entered into an agreement whereby a Russian company would acquire a minority interest in Uranium One, including its interest in mining projects in the United States. The conspiracy theory comes into play because one of the owners of the company made a fairly large contribution to the Clinton Foundation. Following this, a U.S. government inter-departmental committee that includes the State Department approved the sale. Since this occurred at the time when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the claim has been made that there was some sort of quid pro quo for the approval linked to the Clinton Foundation approval. The theory also includes the false claim that the sale involved actually selling uranium mined in the United States, which is untrue and in any case impossible since American law generally forbids uranium mined in the United States from being exported to any country, much less to Russia. Additionally, the final government approval of the sale includes the stipulation that all of the uranium that Uranium One mines in the United States will be sold to American utilities, other American companies that make use of uranium in their products such as the makers of high-technology medical devices, and the U.S. Government. While all of this has been debunked, in particular by Snopes, Politicoand The Washington Post, Fox News hosts such as Sean Hannity continue to push the idea that Hillary Clinton allowed Russians to get American uranium and, most recently, President Trump has used his Twitter account to push the theory and to demand that the Justice Department investigate the matter.

Yesterday, though, Fox News host Shepard Smith, who has often bucked the conservative headwinds at his own network, used his afternoon show on Fox News Channel to completely debunk the alleged conspiracy that Fox News has been at the forefront of pushing:

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith debunked what his own network has called the Hillary Clinton uranium “scandal,” infuriating Fox viewers, some of whom suggested that he ought to work for CNN or MSNBC.

Smith’s critique, which called President Trump’s accusations against Clinton “inaccurate,” was triggered by renewed calls from Republicans on Capitol Hill for a special counsel to investigate Clinton.

Fox News, along with Trump and his allies, have been suggesting for months a link between donations to the Clinton Foundation and the approval of a deal by the State Department and the Obama administration allowing a Russian company to purchase a Canada-based mining group with operations in the United States.

Trump called it “Watergate, modern-age.” Former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka, speaking on Fox News last month, said it was “equivalent to” the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg spying case of the 1950s, in which the couple was charged with providing U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, noting that “those people got the chair.”

Various fact-checkers, including The Washington Post’s, have already dismantled the underpinnings of these accusations. No one expected a similar debunking from Fox.

Here’s the video of Smith’s report:

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg hails Smith for setting the record straight:

My real objection is to the way people on late-night shout shows and talk radio blithely and irresponsibly throw around claims that our national security was gravely damaged, or insinuate that treason has been committed. It’s neither of those things. Sebastian Gorka’s repeated invocation of the Rosenbergs is dangerous, demagogic, and dippy.

As Shep notes, the uranium the Russians bought can only be sold . . . in America to American facilities. We weren’t giving ammunition to an enemy (an enemy usually only for the purposes of the Uranium One story, by the way) to kill us with nuclear weapons. Russia already has vastly more Uranium than we do. The U.S. has 1 percent of the global reserves of uranium. Russia has 9 percent. So when you hear radio talkers screaming about how Hillary Clinton gave the Russians TWENTY PERCENT!!!!!! of America’s precious uranium supply, they’re talking about one-fifth of one percent of a fairly common metal (Australia has 29 percent of the known uranium reserves).

In fact, one way you can tell if a commodity is rare is by looking at its price. Gold today is at a bit under $1,300 per ounce. Rhodium, mostly used in things like catalytic converters is around $1,400 per ounce. Platinum (which I always thought until this morning was more expensive than gold) is around $1,000 bucks per ounce.

Uranium? It sells for less than $25 bucks - per pound.

I get that uranium sounds scary. I’ve heard a lot of pundits say something like, “I mean the word uranium was right there! Hello! The Clintons should have known!”

Well, the pundits should know what they’re talking about, too.

Anyone who actually examined the circumstances of the sale and the relevant regulations regarding sales such as this would have known long ago that there was nothing to these allegations. That hasn’t stopped Sean Hannity and others as FNC from pushing this theory, and it hasn’t stopped the President and many Republicans on Capitol Hill from demanding that the Justice Department appoint a special counsel to investigate the matter. Indeed, I suspect that even Hannity and the others realize that there’s nothing of substance to this entire story, but they keep pushing it because it is an obvious effort to distract attention away from the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the ties between people close to or involved in the Trump campaign and Russian officials or people with ties to those officials. It also helps to reinforce the Clinton Derangement Syndrome that has been a central part of the right-wing zeitgeist since the 1990s. Much like the lies that the President tells on a regular basis, the fact that all of the claims that they make are untrue doesn’t matter to them at all. It reinforces what they already believe. That’s all that matters.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. KM says:

    Shepard Smith likes to pretend he works somewhere that occasionally gives a damn about the truth and that he’s allowed to say what he does because of “balance.” It’s probably the only way he can look in the mirror to let the makeup artist do their thing. Sadly, he’s got a clock above his head and I wouldn’t be surprised if time ran out for his career there shortly. Megan Kelly was quite the star there not too long ago………

    Good for him for telling the truth and not having to be pressured into it by boycott or public disapproval. Keep getting those flea baths if you want to keep your job though – you’re laying down with quite a few flea-bitten dogs and FOX turns on it’s own.

  2. Not the IT Dept. says:

    One of the fascinating things about the past two years – since Trump became a serious contender in the Republican primaries – is how reasonable some Republican pundits have become in their rhetoric. Jonah Goldberg writes an asinine book equating liberalism = fascism and now he’s writing about how pundits should be more careful in what they write.

    Trump really ruined it for a lot of right-wing hacks. Now they’ve got to decide whether to go full-Coulter and jump through the looking glass into an alternate world, or back-pedal until you return to the sane world.

    Never – EVER – go full Coulter.

  3. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Somebody counted 40 times that Uranium One has been mentioned on FNC, since Shepard Smith debunked the story. Never let facts stand in the way of a good conspiracy theory.

  4. Mikey says:

    Unfortunately, the people who really need to see this don’t watch Shepard Smith. He’s “too liberal” for them and they wonder why he hasn’t been fired yet.

    If I had a dollar for every Trumpist who’s thrown “URANIUM ONE!!!!!11!!!!” out like it’s the next “BENGHAZI!!!!!111!!!!!!” but has literally no idea what CFIUS is, I could buy my dream car.

  5. Mu says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised is this wasn’t a calculated move by FoxNews marketing to find a landing spot for all the advertising dollars currently being shed by Hannity.
    “Look, we have someone who’s not insane; you can advertise there without damaging your brand”.

  6. drj says:

    Fox News anchor Shepard Smith debunked what his own network has called the Hillary Clinton uranium “scandal,” infuriating Fox viewers, some of whom suggested that he ought to work for CNN or MSNBC.

    This pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

    We don’t want no stinkin’ facts!

  7. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Mu:

    “Look, we have someone who’s not insane; you can advertise there without damaging your brand”.

    Their new slogan: Fox News: We’re not all batshit crazy.

    … but our audience is.

  8. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Mikey:

    … I could buy my dream car.

    I was just in Shanghai.

    I saw that McLaren, new from the dealer, being delivered via flatbed truck.

    Pink. It was painted a custom pink. Bright Pepto-Bismol pink.

    Apparently, Capitalism in shanghai, under the auspices of Chinese Socialism is doing VERY well for some of the sisters there.

    Don’t even ask me about the pink Rolls Royce. It was just very wrong.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    Fox, and Shepherd Smith, often make the distinction between their news shows such as Smith’s, and their opinion shows, such as Hannity’s. I can’t comment on it, as I don’t watch Fox at all, but I think that’s how they parse it. And Shepherd is more than just a fig leaf for Fox. Right now he is instrumental in the parent corporation’s effort to buy SkyOne in Britain because that separation between news and opinion is the basis for their claim they are a real news organization and not just the political arm of the Republican Party.

  10. SenyorDave says:

    @Mikey: You are definitely right, and I could buy my dream car.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHGczDHTDpo

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: FWIW, Pink is not traditionally considered a “female” color in China. In fact, it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century that the “Pink = girls / blue = boys” thing started in the US. So, in China, a hot pink McClaren may just be a brightly colored car, not a girly car.

  12. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    The comments against Smith are funny..because they are casting him as Anti-Trump.
    So the logic is that if you debunk this conspiracy theory about the Clinton’s you are against Trump; it’s not about whether the Clinton’s did anything wrong or not, it’s about distracting from what the Trumps did wrong. 1 year later Dumb Don is still running against Clinton. One can presume he is still losing.

  13. Joe says:

    @Mikey:

    Uranium One is like Benghazi, just not for the reasons they think it is.

  14. Kylopod says:

    I’ve mentioned it before, but Jon Stewart nailed it in an interview with Chris Wallace some years ago: Fox keeps people like Wallace and Smith around to give the network a veneer of respectability it for the most part lacks.

  15. TM01 says:

    Meanwhile, how many people are still pushing the Trump/Russia conspiracy theory?

  16. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Mikey: I’ve never understood the point of a hard-top roadster.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: Yeah. I used to read The Corner at NRO for laughs. (It got repetitious and their website sucks.) Jonah Goldberg got a foot on the ladder because his mother got Linda Tripp to out Monica Lewinski. He’s dumber than dirt. If he gets that there is nothing to U1…

    It’s fascinating to see people who’ve made a living for years pandering to conservative fantasies (George Will and Jennifer Rubin come immediately to mind) having to make marketing decisions on whether to follow their market down the rabbit hole or try to look sane.

  18. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: As a person selling a product, my question is not about the relative sanity of the viewers. Rather, it is about their willingness and capability to buy my product. Where the crazy intersects is if my product becomes associated with the craziness of the medium I select to advertise on in the eyes of my other customers. I don’t care if Fox News viewers are crazy and evil, but I have to care if customers believe that I’m crazy and evil because Fox News is. (And that may not be as big a concern as I think–witness Keurig’s back pedal.)

  19. MBunge says:

    I know it doesn’t fit with this blog’s new publishing philosophy, but are you really going to let the tectonic shift in Democratic and liberal opinion on Bill Clinton pass without any comment? It’s probably the most significant sudden change in political norms in our lifetimes. It makes the public’s evolution on gay marriage look slow as molasses on a cold day.

    And it’s possibly the healthiest thing to happen to our politics since the election of Barack Obama. If it takes hold, people will no longer have to regurgitate the same BS when cranks like me start going on and on. You can just pat us on the head and say “Yes dearie, everybody already knows that.”

    If you absolutely have to put an anti-Trump spin on it, just let me know. I’ll be happy to help you out.

    Mike

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: just out of curiosity, why the down vote?

  21. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @TM01:

    Meanwhile, how many people are still pushing the Trump/Russia conspiracy theory?

    There are 3 components to what you call the Trump/Russia conspiracy theory.
    1). Russia interfered in our election. Our entire Intelligence Community supports this as fact. They also agree that the attack is ongoing. You don’t seem to care that Russia has, and continues, to attack the US. Why is it that you do not care about that, traitor?
    2). Trump obstructed the investigation into Russian Interference in our election. A first year law student could probably make a case for this based solely on what Trump has himself admitted.
    3). The Trump Campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in our election. This is admittedly more sketchy…but an overwhelming preponderance of evidence makes it more likely than not. Certainly very little, if anything, in the Steele Dossier has been dis-proven (certainly not like the Uranium One conspiracy was so easily de-bunked). The actions of the Trump camp certainly appear like the actions of guilty people, not innocent people.
    But in answer to your original question…the only one that matters is named Robert Mueller.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    Hannity’s thing with Keurig seems to be tightly parsed. As far as I know they aren’t going to start advertising again, they just apologized for tweeting their decision to stop advertising. And the reaction of his fans cuts both ways, because if I was considering an ad buy that included Hannity I would have to nix it, politics or no politics. You don’t sign up as an advertiser forever and you may pull ads for lots of reasons. If an innocent business decision could end in a boycot that’s a strong reason to avoid a venue.

  23. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:

    the tectonic shift in Democratic and liberal opinion on Bill Clinton

    Not sure what you are talking about (never really am)…I’ve always thought Clinton was a scum-bag. But by almost every measure he outshines most Presidents from your cult, flawed as he was.
    The bigger tectonic shift is that, thanks to your Dear Leader, Bush 43 is suddenly seen as a fvcking genius.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    Yes. The point is not that Trump’s favorite new conspiracy theory is pure bullsh!t, the point, as always, is WHATABOUT?

    Here’s one: your president and his Secretary of State, are both traitors. So here’s a whatabout for you: whatabout Tillerson giving the Russians a no-bid contract to manage security at the US embassy in Russia? Whatabout the fact that this follows the disaster of the building of the embassy and the fact that no one, no one capable of consciousness, would be that stupid again?

    Whatabout that, Mr. Whatabout?

    Whatabout Sessions committing perjury to cover up meeting with the Russians?

    Whatabout Don Jr. in cahoots with Wikileaks, identified as a non-state hostile intel service?

    Whatabout Trump saying he believes Putin over his own intel agencies?

    Whatabout a child molester running as GOP Senator in Alabama?

    Whatabout China suddenly no longer either a currency manipulator, or an unfair trader because: parade?

    Whatabout cozying up to Duterte, a confessed murderer?

    Whatabout giving the Saudi Crown Prince a go-ahead to launch a war in Lebanon on top of the disaster in Yemen?

    Whatabout the fact that surveys show a massive, catastrophic drop in American power and prestige?

    Whatabout condemning Harvey Weinstein while defending Trump, the pussy-grabber?

    Whatabout the GOP doing nothing about bump stocks?

    Whatabout the hollowing out of the State Department?

    Whatabout you abject refusal, still, to answer simple questions, Mike?

  25. James Pearce says:

    an obvious effort to distract attention away from the ongoing investigation into Russian interference

    It continues to make me sad that Trump’s efforts to deflect are as obvious as they are feeble, and yet they continue to work.

    Yeats was right. The center will not hold.

  26. Mikey says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Once the top goes down, the dynamics of the body of a car change. Handling is affected. The additional body stiffening measures necessary to counteract flex and twist in the body of a convertible roadster add significant weight.

    But the 570S is available with a retractable hard top, just in case you want the wind in your hair.

  27. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    It continues to make me sad that Trump’s efforts to deflect are as obvious as they are feeble, and yet they continue to work.

    Are they really working, though?

    There will always be some people–like those who continue to push the Uranium One issue, despite it being so transparently bogus–who will never be persuaded. With them, yeah, Trump’s efforts continue to work. But more and more Americans see through him every day.

    Look at last Tuesday’s elections. The results can’t reasonably be viewed as anything but a colossal rebuke to Trump.

    And I assure you his efforts aren’t working with Robert Mueller and his team.

  28. KM says:

    @MBunge:
    Honest to god, can a modern conservative do *anything* without complaining about a Clinton as justification for their perversion?

    Eventually, I expect y’all to end up like that one clone character Gary from Fallout 3 that could only repeat his name. Your entire lexicon will be nothing but “Clinton” in varying inflections and psychotic rage to any non-clone that doesn’t speak the lingo. “Clinton? Clinton! ClinTON c~lin~tooonnnn! CLINTON!!”

    Moore might actually lose Alabama to a Democrat in a world ruled by Breitbart’s spin. Hannity’s getting his ass handed to him for supporting Moore and Smith the only one willing to point out what raging BS y’all are peddling….. but CLINTON!

    Sit down, Bunge, have some Nuka-Cola and stay out of the Capital Wasteland.

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @MBunge: Well, at least you’ve admitted you’re a crank….

  30. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:
  31. gVOR08 says:

    @KM: At least “Clinton” is easier to spell than their old mantra and general purpose excuse, “Chappaquiddick”.

  32. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    Look at last Tuesday’s elections. The results can’t reasonably be viewed as anything but a colossal rebuke to Trump.

    Reassuring, no doubt, but “colossal rebuke?” For me it falls in the “too little, too late” category.

    We’re going to be digging out of Trump’s mess for the next generation at least, so I can’t be heartened by some off-year election results.

    @KM:

    can a modern conservative do *anything* without complaining about a Clinton as justification for their perversion?

    No.

    If this was understood better, we might have avoided last year’s debacle.

  33. grumpy realist says:

    Anyone see Wonkette’s take on the troll claiming the WP was paying people for made-up Moore stories?

    Of course, the fact that this was debunked five ways from Sunday made no difference to the alt-right Twitter drones who picked up the “story” and have spread it everywhere. Like a case of measles.

    I’m starting to think that deliberately setting out false stories should be rewarded with a) fraud charges b) several years in jail.

    (Might not work in this case, because there’s also some evidence pointing to this person having been a Russian troll.)

  34. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Yeats was right. The center will not hold.

    What rough beast, indeed.

  35. Tyrell says:

    That is one reason I no longer watch the main stream “news”. Too much slanted opinion stories, and many of the hosts are on there hollering and berating people: depressing.
    I watch other news sources that give facts and news .

  36. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: Anything to avoid giving credit to the socially liberal activists who inspired so many Democrats to take action at the polls, right?

    Whatever. I’m sure it won’t be long before someone will do something that you think justifies another round of hippie punching.

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Tyrell:

    I watch other news sources that give facts and news .

    BBC America? Al-Jazeera? Inquiring minds want to know…

  38. Tyrell says:

    @DrDaveT: I used to watch ALJam, but it is off. I go to PBS, Channel One, USA Today, Bloomberg, NewsEla, Popular Science, CNBC, and Space Weather. Also local radio.

  39. Eric Florack says:
  40. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: So I take it that you reject the idea that the Uranium One story is bunkum? I ask because I didn’t see Mr. Smith “hollering and berating” anyone. He simply said that the accusation is untrue and presented the evidence to that effect.

  41. Dave Kopiniak says:

    Fox News is on the verge of moving back into real news, and Shepard Smith is the natural edge of that. Fox has a serous problem in its audience numbers – the qualitative ones that say how much each audience member is worth. They lost 18% of their revenue stream this year from declining psychographic numbers, and need to revamp the news to try and keep their best viewers. You might see a lot less of Hannity and one or more serious analysis shows coming in with (for example) more people from the WSJ.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @Dave Kopiniak: I wish you were right, But Fox News is a committed brand. It seems to me that the usual case in the decline of a dominant brand is to double down on what made them big in the first place.

  43. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    Anything to avoid giving credit to the socially liberal activists who inspired so many Democrats to take action at the polls, right?

    Is that what the activists want? Credit?

    Starting with this year‘s election results?

  44. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: My point is you’ve been going on and on about how activism doesn’t really result in anything, and when it clearly does, you just dismiss it as “not heartening” or “just this year” or whatever.

    Heads I win, tails you lose, punch a hippie, wheee!

  45. al-Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    I know it doesn’t fit with this blog’s new publishing philosophy, but are you really going to let the tectonic shift in Democratic and liberal opinion on Bill Clinton pass without any comment? It’s probably the most significant sudden change in political norms in our lifetimes. It makes the public’s evolution on gay marriage look slow as molasses on a cold day.

    Amazing, conservative Republican obsession with Bill and Hillary Clinton has been at a fever pitch since 1992.

    By the way, when are Republicans going to impeach President Hillary Clinton? I see you guys might re-open email server and Benghazi! investigations, and new Uranium! and Clinton Foundation! inquiries might be on the table too. Why not fold them into a bill of impeachment?

    Oh wait? Even though she won the popular vote she lost the election? So, despite all the Clinton-related “news” she’s not our president? Oh, okay.

    Never mind.

  46. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    when it clearly does

    What did the activists win this election season?